Saturday, August 17, 2013

Douglas Complex 72 Percent Contained

No additional perimeter growth is anticipated for the fires in the Douglas Complex, which is 46,932 acres in size. However, acreage may increase due to additional interior burning. Aerial ignitions will continue to assist the burnout activities today on the Dad’s Creek fire.

The complex is 72 percent contained and the suppression cost to date is $45 million. Personnel and equipment assigned to the complex includes 62 crews, 64 engines, 19 bulldozers, 24 water tenders and ten helicopters.

Rabbit Mountain Fire – 23,954 acres 

Crews will continue to strengthen firelines and extinguish hot spots. Mop-up will continue with a close watch on the lines for spots of rolling debris.
 
Dad’s Creek Fire – 22,715 acres

Burnout will continue today between the Sawmill Gap Ridge and Reuben Creek. Mop-up, patrol, and rehab, of the unburned areas for spots will continue around the fire perimeter today. Infrared patrols will assist in the detection of hot spots.
 
Weather:   The fire area will experience a warming and drying trend beginning today and will continue for the next couple of days. Temperatures will be about 10 degrees higher than normal. The winds will be out of the northeast and the communities of Glendale, Canyonville, and Riddle should encounter less smoke than yesterday.
 
Evacuations and closures:
  • Cow Creek Rd from Riddle into the fire area has been closed except for residents. The Oregon National Guard will be conducting traffic control at the roadblocks to limit public interference with firefighters working in the area.
  • A Level 2 evacuation remains in place for McCullough Creek Rd, Reuben Rd, and Mt Reuben Rd in Douglas County and Lower Grave Creek Rd, Grave Creek Rd, and Lower Wolf Creek Rd in Josephine County.
  • Glendale is at a Level 1 evacuation.
  • The area from Wolf Creek to Watertank Gulch is at a Level 1 evacuation.
  • Residences in the area are still considered threatened. This mean evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future. Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County Sheriff or the Josephine County Sheriff.
Public Safety/Prevention:  Firefighters are contending with the following hazards: Rolling boulders, falling trees, old mine shafts, and narrow roads which are affecting access into some of the fire area.  Values at risk include: homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat.   To date, no homes have burned, but two outbuildings been lost. Ten minor injuries have been reported.
 
The Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions for both industry and the public. Check www.dfpa.net for details.

Fireline Construction on the Big Windy Complex

Many miles of fireline have been constructed on the Big Windy Complex, but there is a lot more work to accomplish before the fire will be contained.  “The percentage of containment does not reflect the amount of work that is being done on the ground.  A lot of work goes into building firelines.  However, they cannot be counted toward containment until they are completely secure.” said Incident Commander Ed Lewis. 

Firefighters are implementing an indirect strategy to safely fight the fire while minimizing acres burned.  This suppression strategy includes constructing fireline away from the fire’s edge when it is unsafe for firefighters to build a fireline directly adjacent to the fire.  This strategy is used when any combination of these factors are present:  very active fire behavior with flame lengths longer than four feet; a fast moving fire; heavy amounts of fuel; and/or very steep and cliffy terrain. 

Indirect firelines typically use a combination of natural barriers, like ridge tops, combined with dozer or hand built lines.  Construction requires an extensive amount of work.  Clearing and disposing of the vegetation, often through chipping, removing all vegetation down to mineral soil, and removing ladder fuels adjacent to the line can be very time consuming.   Even when using existing roads, thinning and removing ladder fuels are often required immediately adjacent to the road to successfully stop a fire.  Fires that move through the tree canopy or in heavy brush can easily move across a road, the goal is to get the fire to drop to the ground and/or reduce its intensity, allowing firefighters a better chance to halt the forward progression of the fire.

Burn outs are often used in conjunction with indirect lines to slow the fire down before it reaches control lines.  Burn outs are intentionally set to consume fuels adjacent to the fireline in a controlled manner.   “Until we can burn out and have good secure black line, we cannot call a fire contained,” said Lewis.  Fires are declared contained when the fireline can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.  To date, many miles of fireline have been constructed, but not yet secured through burn-out.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Plan for Traffic Delays on Forest Road 33 Between Powers and Agness

Repairs on Forest Road 33, between Powers and Agness, are expected to begin on August 19, 2013 and continue through mid-October.  The first stage of the project, which involves three sites over a distance of ¼ mile, should not obstruct traffic.  Delays up to 30 minutes are anticipated beginning September 3.

The Federal Highway Administration funded project includes construction of three reinforced walls and paving to replace failed sections of the roadway damaged by landslides.  Scott Blower, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Engineer said, “During the storms of April 2012, the roads on the Powers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts received extensive damage-estimates exceed $4 million. The Federal Highway Administration has worked closely with the Forest Service to provide funding and engineering design assistance to address the substantial impacts of the storms.”

Construction activities will occur Monday through Friday during daylight hours approximately 18 miles south of Powers on Forest Road 33, at or near the junction with Forest Road 3348.  As work progresses south on Forest Road 33, beyond the FR33/FR3348 junction, flaggers will be present with 30-minute delays possible during work hours.  The road will be restricted to one lane during non-working hours with a temporary traffic control light in place. 

Please contact the Powers Ranger District at (541) 439-6200 for current information.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's Looking Smoky Out...

Some local folks are noticing that the Valley is smoky in some areas one day and not so much the next – What exactly is going on and what does that mean for you and for the air you breathe?

·       The below link illustrates a map depicting cities, their respective air quality and discussions on what that actually means:


·       The National Weather Service Area Forecast Discussion has information on smoke dispersion in our area:


·       The below link illustrates the fire perimeters, MOTIS hot spots (handy for new lightning fires), and smoke activity:

Big Windy Complex Fire Update August 15, 2013


Big Windy Complex: The wild section of the Rogue River is now open with restrictions.   Rogue River recreationalists are strongly encouraged to launch from Argo rather than Grave Creek to reduce congestion at the launch area.   For questions about river operations, please contact the Smullin Visitor Center at 541-479-3735.  
Yesterday’s Fire Operations: Fire managers took advantage of yesterday’s hot and dry weather to burn out along the fire lines on the southeast flank.  Aviation resources were used to support the crews with water drops and reconnaissance flights.  The fire slowly backed down the hill to create a good understory burn, which is exactly what crews were trying to accomplish. Five hotshot crews worked until midnight to continue burning while conditions were favorable and to secure the burned area. 
Today’s Fire Operations: Crews will continue to construct contingency lines on the northeast flank. Resources on the south side of the river will continue burnout operations on the southeast flank.  Helitorch aerial ignition will be used.  Fire activity is expected to decrease after today with a marine push moving in from the coast, bringing more humidity and fog.    
Weather: Weather is predicted to moderate today with lower temperatures and a slight elevation in humidity.  Smoke impacts from burnout operations should be expected. The Haines Index has been dropped to 3. 

 
Evacuations:

A Level 2 evacuation is in place for residences north of the Rogue River and south of the Marial Byway.  Residents in this vicinity should be prepared to leave if asked. A Level 1 evacuation is in effect in the Galice area and west.  Hazards from the approaching fire may be severe in these locations and residents should take precautionary measures to protect persons with special needs, pets, livestock, and mobile property. 

Closures:
  • Bear Camp Road (BLM # 34-8-36 and Forest Service #23) is officially closed.  See websites above for additional information. The National Guard is providing staffing at all road closure checkpoints.
  • Burnt Ridge Road, Forest Service Road 2308, is closed from the junction with Forest Road 2300 to the junction with Forest Road 3300.
  • Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch.
[originally posted The Big Windy Complex Information, Thursday, August 15, 2013]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

National Forest Firefighters Contain 42 Fires in Seven Days

Firefighters have been busy since August 7 chasing smokes and putting out fires started by the series of lightning storms that have passed over the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.  To date, all 42 new fire starts associated with the storms have been contained.  Aircraft, engines and crews remain available to attack any additional starts should sleeper fires come to life over the next few days. 

A summary of the activity on the Forest: High Cascades Ranger District – 23 fires; Wild Rivers Ranger District – 14 fires; Gold Beach Ranger District – 5 fires.  The largest fire, the Grizzly Fire on the Wild Rivers Ranger District, grew to 4 acres. All fires combined burned just over 15 acres. 

Cooperation between all fire suppression organizations, land management agencies and large fire management teams in southwest Oregon remains a hallmark of the 2013 fire season.  With thousands of lightning strikes from the latest series of storms, initial attack resources were initially beefed up in anticipation of the lightning, and then supplemented by aircraft, engines and crews from the large fires in the area to successfully keep all new starts small in size.

While the latest fires on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest were lightning-caused, many wildfires in southwest Oregon are caused by people. The Forest has issued new public use restrictions to decrease the possibility of human caused fires.  To view the latest restrictions, as well as road and trail closures on the Forest associated with large fire activity go to: www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.  To view the current restrictions on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties, including the Bureau of Land Management, go to: www.swofire.com/p/fire-season-regulations.  For regulations in Douglas County, see the Douglas Forest Protective Association's website at http://www.dfpa.net/. Regulations in Coos and Curry counties are established by the Coos Forest Protective Association at http://www.coosfpa.net/.

The public is urged to use caution with any activity that could spark a blaze.  Every preventable wildfire puts firefighters and the public at risk and reduces the ability of fire suppression agencies to respond to the next fire.

State Forester Seeks Applicants for OFRI Board

Oregon State Forester Doug Decker is seeking applications from qualified individuals to serve on the board of directors of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. OFRI is a state agency dedicated to forestry education and governed by an independent board.

Persons interested in being considered for positions on the OFRI board now or in the future should contact Dan Postrel at the Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, Ore., 97310. Completed applications must be postmarked by Aug. 30, 2013.

The state forester appoints 11 of OFRI’s 13 board members. Two other members serve ex officio: the dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry and a public representative who is appointed jointly by the president of the Oregon Senate and the speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.

Board representation includes small, medium and large forest products producers that pay a dedicated forest products harvest tax to support OFRI’s programs. The board also contains one member representing small woodland owners and one representing forest sector employees. Board members must be Oregon residents.

Producer class specifications include:
  • Class 1 – Producers of less than 20 million board feet per year
  • Class 2 - Producers of at least 20 million board feet per year, but less than 100 million board feet per year
  • Class 3 – Producers of at least 100 million board feet per year
The small woodland owner representative must own between 100 and 2,000 acres of forestland and have no direct financial interest in any forest-products processing activity.

To learn more about OFRI, visit online at OregonForests.org.

Fire Prevention Restrictions Increase on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Due to heightened fire danger, additional public use restrictions have been implemented across the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, leaving a limited number of sites where campfires will be allowed. Information on campgrounds where fires are allowed may be obtained by contacting your local Ranger District office or the Forest website.

The following restrictions now apply to all Ranger Districts on the Forest:
  • Building, maintaining, attending or using campfires or stove fires are allowed only in constructed concrete or metal fire rings, or fireplaces in designated recreation sites.
  • Portable cooking stoves utilizing liquefied or bottled fuel sources continue to be allowed, so are self-contained stoves.
  • Smoking is only allowed in an enclosed vehicle, building, developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is void of all flammable material, including vegetation, or while aboard a watercraft while navigating or at rest on a waterway. Internal combustion engines may only be operated on motor vehicles on Forest Service.
  • Roads clear of vegetation or within designated parking areas, watercraft while navigating or at rest on a waterway and generators in designated recreation sites. The Prospect Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trail/Road System remains open for OHV use.
  • No welding equipment may be used, including acetylene or open flame torches.
The Industrial Fire Precaution Level on all Ranger Districts remains at Level III - personal and commercial woodcutters are prohibited from operating power saws.

Members of the public are cautioned that failure to comply with these restrictions may result in criminal and/or civil penalties.

Burnout of East Flank Planned for Big Windy Complex

If weather conditions are favorable, a burnout operation will be implemented today on the Big Windy Complex's east flank. A total of 1,351 personnel are assigned to the complex, estimated to be 15,447 acres in size, and the complex is 15 percent contained.

The closure on the portion of the Wild & Scenic Section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial was lifted yesterday, but some restrictions are still in effect. For more information about the river corridor, contact the Smullin Visitor Center at (541) 479-3735.

Bear Camp Road remains closed, and the Rogue River hiking trail between Grave Creek and Rogue River Ranch also is closed.

For more information, see the Big Windy Complex InciWeb page.

Douglas Complex Crews Prepare for Burnouts on SW Flank

During the last few days, firefighters have prepared a contingency line for future burnout operations along the southwest edge of the Dad’s Creek fire.  The terrain is extremely steep along this active edge of the fire and there are unburned fuels between the fire and the contingency line.  The burnout will occur in stages over the next three days.  Smoke from the fire should be visible toward the Grants Pass area.  Meanwhile, fire fighters continue to extinguish all hot spots along the perimeter and within the interior portion of the fire.  Patrol and holding of fire lines continues throughout the complex.  Infrared patrols along the perimeters are detecting hotspots to aid mop up crews.

The Rabbit Mountain Fire is 23,240 acres in size, and the Dad's Creek Fire is 21,908 acres. The complex is 50 percent contained. More than 2,770 personnel are assigned to the complex, and the suppression cost to date is estimated to be $36.7 million.

For more information, see the Douglas Complex InciWeb page.

String of Four Vehicle-Caused Fires Along I-5 Scorch 7 Acres

On Monday afternoon, vehicles throwing sparks started a string of four grass-and-brush fires along Interstate 5. Engines from the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Medford and Grants Pass units responded and stopped the fires before any structures were damaged.

Three of the fires broke out around 3:40 p.m. near Milepost 47 next to the southbound lane of I-5 near Valley of the Rogue State Park. Two of the fires were along the roadside and one was in the median strip. Two of the fires burned more than 3 acres apiece and the third just two-tenths of an acre.The fourth fire broke out alongside the northbound lane near Milepost 46 at 5:25 p.m. and burned 0.5 acre.

See the video below for tips on how to prevent vehicle-caused wildfires.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Big Windy Complex Update


Big Windy Complex is burning in steep terrain; dry fuels and poor access have hindered control efforts.  Fire line construction is complete on the east and south perimeters and is nearing completion on the west perimeter.  Fire fighters continue working on contingency lines on the north side of the river. The closure that was in place on the BLM portion of the Rogue River’s Wild Section, from Grave Creek to Mule Creek, has been lifted with some restrictions.  For questions about river operations, please contact the Smullin Visitor Center at 541-479-3735.  Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3, under the command of Ed Lewis, assumed responsibility of the Big Windy Complex at 6:00 AM this morning.
Yesterday’s Fire Activity: The Big Windy Complex was not as active yesterday but fire activity is expected to increase again in the next few days as temperatures warm and fuels dry out.  Nightly infrared flights, which identify hot spots near the fire line, continue to provide valuable information that is used for planning purposes.    
Today’s Fire Operations: Firefighters continue to work on contingency control lines on the east and west flanks.  Structure protection continues in Galice and at the Rogue River Ranch; it is complete at the Black Bar Lodge and Zane Grey Cabin.    
Weather: Temperatures are expected to increase in the next few days and relative humidity levels are expected to drop. 
Evacuations: A Level 2 evacuation is in place from the Marial Lodge, along the Rogue River east to Grave Creek, then north and west on the Marial Byway back to the Marial Lodge. Residents in this vicinity should be prepared to leave if asked. A Level 1 Notice has been issued for the Galice Access Road, north to the Graves Creek Bridge.  Level 1 means that hazards from the approaching fire may be severe and precautionary measures should be taken to protect persons with special needs, pets, livestock, and mobile property.
Closures:
  • Bear Camp Road (BLM # 34-8-36 and Forest Service #23) is officially closed with closure orders and maps issued by the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management/Grants Pass Interagency Office and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest/Gold Beach Ranger District. See websites above for additional information. The National Guard is providing staffing at all road closure checkpoints.
  • Burnt Ridge Road, Forest Service Road 2308, is closed from the junction with Forest Road 2300 to the junction with Forest Road 3300.
  • Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch

Douglas Complex Update


Current Situation:  The Douglas Complex currently consists of Rabbit Mountain, Dad’s Creek, and Farmer’s fires.  As weather returns to more seasonal conditions, fire fighters continue to work diligently to extinguish all hot spots along the perimeter and within the interior portion of the fire.  Other fire fighters are working on patrolling and holding the lines.  More active areas are being prepared for future burnout operations to control the remaining hotter edges of the fire.  Infrared patrols along the perimeters are detecting  hotspots to aid mop up crews.
 
Rabbit Mountain – 23,240 acres 

The southwest corner and western flank of the fire around Riffle Creek and Bear Creek continue to be the most active front of the fire.  Crews will be working to construct containment lines in this area.  Crews in other areas of the fire will strengthen firelines and extinguish hot spots.   Burnout operations will be occurring over the next several days to complete control objectives. 
 
Dad’s Creek – 21,908 acres

The southwest end of the fire continues to burn near the rugged areas of Reuben Creek where fireline is still being constructed.  Crews will be taking advantage of less active fire behavior to reinforce firelines in these areas.  Containment lines in the Rattlesnake Creek, Dry Creek and Poorman Creek areas continue to be strengthened to secure homes.
 
Weather:   No lightning is forecasted.   A warming and drying trend is expected through the week.  As seasonal weather conditions return, fire fighters can expect increased fire activity. 
 
Evacuations and Closures: Remain the same
 
  • Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed except for residents.  The National Guard will be conducting traffic control at the road blocks to limit public interference with firefighters working in the area. 
  • The Level 2 evacuation remains for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County and Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County.
  • Glendale is at a Level 1 evacuation.
  • The area from the community of Wolf Creek to Watertank Gulch is at a Level 1 evacuation.
  • Residences in the area are still considered threatened.  This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future.  Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine County sheriff’s offices.
 
Public Safety/Prevention:  Firefighters are contending with hazards, like falling boulders and trees, old mine shafts, and narrow roads which are affecting access into some of the fire area.  Heavy rainfall in some parts of the fire may increase rolling debris and make footing more difficult.  Values at risk include homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat.   To date, no homes have burned, but two outbuildings burned.
 
Seven minor injuries have been reported.
 
Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions for both industry and the public. Check www.dfpa.net before commencing your activities.

Restrictions Eased in Wild & Scenic Section of Rogue River


Starting this morning, the portion of the Rogue Wild and Scenic River Corridor that has been closed from Grave Creek to Mule Creek due to safety considerations associated with the Big Windy Complex, will be open with restrictions.
 
Please contact the Smullin Visitor Center at Rand National Historic Site (541-479-3735) or visit their website at http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/rogue/index.php on a daily basis to receive the most current river restrictions, which will be adjusted to reflect the current fire situation.  
 
There is a possibility the river can close again as conditions warrant throughout the remainder of the fire season.
 
Additional recreation facilities also re-opening today:
  • The Grave Creek Boat Ramp
  • Rainey Falls Trail
  • The portion of the Rogue River from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch

More Lightning-Caused Fires Found on National Forest Over Weekend

Smokejumpers, rappellers, hand crews and engines responded on Sunday to ten additional lightning-caused fires on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest from Saturday's thunderstorm, despite the moderate to heavy rains in some areas.  

Four new fires were on the Wild Rivers Rangers District with the largest at four acres.  The remaining nine fires were each less than one acre with four located on the High Cascades Ranger District and two on the Powers Ranger District. 

If visibility continues to improve, aircraft will provide additional support with bucket drops as well as flights to aid in smoke and fire detection. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest also continues to staff fire lookouts and additional fire-fighting resources are available if needed.

The National Weather Service lifted the Red Flag Warning, but temperatures were expected to begin warming up again.

Even with the wet thunderstorms on Saturday, fire danger throughout southwest Oregon remains extreme. Fire officials ask the public to be familiar with current public use restrictions.